Disclaimer: I don't own the TMNT
A/N: Alright. I'll admit a little guilt here. Now that I got some of the stuff going on out of the way and the command inspection is over with I was planning on putting the next chapter of Hello Cruel World on before this one...but I couldn't help it! I'm excited about the ending, which I had envisioned almost before even conceiving of the story! For all of those reading on my other story as well, I promise that I'll get the chapter going after finishing this one off! I hope you enjoy it!
I stood there for a moment, nothing moving except for the rustling of my fur. The four elite guard stood just as still, staring at me like statues through their hooded gazes. Slowly, with infinite care, I flexed my shoulders. The muscles on my back relaxed ever so slightly and my spine crackled. The tip of my tail twitched in anticipation. Still the guard didn't move.
I moved first, buckling my left leg to propell my body into a sharp feint. The guard moved without so much as a whisper of sound, all four of them simoutaneously speeding to different areas of the room, all of them towards me. My eyes narrowed as they rushed at me and I pulled out Leonardo's katana, gripping the hilt firmly in my grasp as I propelled myself forward at the end of my feint...right into them.
The blade moved silently through the air as I aimed for the knees of the nearest two. The first managed to stagger back, only getting a gash above both knees and the second sprang out of the way like a cat. The other two came at me from the side and behind as I tried to strike. I deliberately buckled my legs to dodge both of their wickedly curved blades. One strike like that and it would all be over. The first blade whispered over my head as I fell. The other stopped me in my tracks as it sank into the flesh and bones of my tail. For a brief moment it stopped me completely, as though instead of chopping it he pegged it to the ground. Then the bone gave way with a sickening slip and I was able to dart out of the way just as the other three came in for another volley of attack.
Blood spurted from the wound. I could tell without looking that I had lost a good half foot of my tail.
I felt nothing.
Another charged, thinking me off balance. I used my momentum to go into a roll. Swiping with the sword I cut the blade into both of his heels, right through his achilles tendon. He didn't make a sound. Limping heavily he tried to attack while balancing on one foot. I tried to take advantage of his precarious position but another swiftly came at me from the head and I had to continue the roll out of harms way. Even still, I felt a cold steel blade sink into my right shoulder, just under the shoulder blade. Automatically I arched my back with a grunt of pain. Flipping the katana in my grasp I jabbed it under my armpit, seeking to stab the attacker from behind. I only managed to catch his wrist as he leapt away. Not losing any movement I swept the weapon to my left, warding off the fourth attacking me. For a brief second I had some space.
They came at me again, slowly separating during their charge like a pack of wolves charging a wounded bull. They were coming at me from all sides, coordinated in their movements, each attack complementing the other. They would not allow me to back up and get away from the attacks and recoup, instead they surrounded me from all sides. I was forced to drop Leonardo's sword momentarily and weild both sai instead, a weapon made more for short range than a katana was. Both of my hands were blazing with weapons. Unfortunately the same was true for the elite as well.
They were constantly leaping, dodging and attacking like a mongoose against a cobra. I struck swiftly, with coordination and speed. My steel struck their flesh more times than I could count. But despite my having handicapped one of them, they were making their marks on me as well. I cannot say for sure exactly where they struck me, I was in such a haze. All that I became aware of soon was my own heartbeat. It was still there. Even as I struck, defended myself, and was attacked, all I could hear was that solid heartbeat. It remained slow and steady despite the fast pace at which I was moving, such was my calm. It has to be one of the most silent battles that I have ever been in.
That heartbeat was important. Vitally important. I had to stay alive, to finish my mission, to avenge my sons. The dishonor, the humiliation would be too great if I was struck down before it was complete. That was my sole purpose. I could clearly see them in my mind and smiled to myself despite the battle that I was in. Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, Raphael. My sons, my children. I am sorry that I have failed you once, but I swear unto you that I will use every breath in my body, every beat in my heart, to ensure that I do not fail you a second time. I cannot bring you back, but perhaps I can avenge your death.
These were my sole thoughts during the battle. Of my family. Of my dearly beloved sons. Whom that witch has taken from me. I must live to see her. To kill her. Yes.
My pace was weakening. My right arm, my most dominant as well, was very much weaker because of the blow dealt in the beginning of the battle. Perhaps it sliced through some of my muscles. It did not matter. As long as I got through this battle. As long as I lived to see one more, just one more...
Still they danced around me. Finally, an opportunity presented itself. One of the ninja leapt in front of me, raising his arms too high for what could be a mortal blow. I used the opening and thrust the sai straight into his abdomen. Viciously I twisted and wrenched the weapon, causing havoc to the organs encased within. The ninja faltered and dropped his weapon as he struggled to get a hold of the organs slipping to the floor. He staggered back, out of the battle.
The movement cost me as well, however. The other two used the opportunity to attack me from both sides. Among my many other wounds, my sides were bleeding. I had managed to dip down immediately after the attack to avoid major damage, but I could tell from my breathing that at least one of my lungs had been punctured. I set my jaw. I could not die, not now.
I inhaled slightly and winced at my first true feelings of pain as blood gurgled in with my air within my ribcage. My left side. Hopefully I could ignore it somehow, hopefully it would allow me to live just a little bit longer, my dear sons. The lame ninja and the one I had struck were now out of the battle. As I said before, despite the wounds I had sustained, they had recieved ones of their own as well. They were panting slightly through their masks. I struggled to control my own breathing, not knowing how soon blood in the lung could kill you I did not want to rush it. Slowly I backed up to the area where I had dropped the katana. Picking it up in my paws, I hefted the weight of it. I do not remember it being this heavy. My bones creaked slightly as I stared at the other two elite. They stared right back.
I tried to assess the situation through my fogged mind. One of them was the one that I struck on the wrist. I had managed to strike deep enough that his ability to grasp was hindered, he was essentially one handed. The other's most serious injury was one that I made on the neck and the chest. Neither was deep enough to do lethal work, but perhaps I could arrange it.
Tightening my muscles for a brief moment, I charged both of them. Mutated rat against trained assassins. They seemed momentarily surprised by my initiating but got over it instantly, charging me as well. Using all the gumption that I could muster, I leapt into the air. One of them swung his naginata straight at me. I twisted in the air like a cat, bringing the katana straight at his head. I did not manage to maneuver enough and the blade of his naginata pierced my side, into my abdomen. The katana, however, landed directly where I aimed; right between the eyes.
The other ninja struck as well. I had no choice considering my position but to accept the blow. Fortunately my earlier maneuvering made it a bit off. It slid down my back, slicing through muscle. My foot and leg, coiled like a spring, unleashed as I kicked him solidly in the chest with the very point of my heel with all the strength that I could muster in that one blow. It landed at the point where the ribcage met, breaking off that bit of bone and releasing it into his chest. I followed it with the pistoning action of my other foot. I felt ribs crack beneath the blow. The ninja coughed and blood spurted from his mouth, staining his mask.
Finishing both attacks simoutaneously I landed a few feet behind them, but surprised myself when the impact jarred me off my own feet and sent me rolling and flopping a bit on the ground. Practically holding my breath with the pain in my abdomen, chest, and back I staggered to my feet and whipped my head around to see the results. The ninja with the head blow was on the ground, blood forming quickly around his head and chest not moving. The other was having difficulty keeping to his feet and was clutching his chest, the blood stain on his mask growing with every breath.
I stared at them for a moment before I realized the coppery taste flooding my own mouth. My body was alive with fire, especially the area in my lungs. It was small, yet slowly becoming effective. It would kill me, eventually. Already I was having difficulty breathing, blood flooding that side of my lungs, giving the lobes less room to expand. At least I had my other one. Perhaps that would last me to the end of this battle.
A gentle clapping averted my attention elsewhere. I looked to see her, the witch approaching me. Karai was in her usual outfit, the one she wore before the Shredder was banished. She walked towards me slowly, clapping softly, her face blank of expression. I did not move save to stare at her, to drill my eyes into hers. She is the one that I came for, the one that I mean to kill.
"Impressive, old rat." She whispered softly. Stopping she looked me up and down. I could feel the blood at my feet and knew it was my own. I must not present a very intimidating sight. Apparently she thought the same, for she didn't look threatened. Turning her head she assessed the dying elite. "I did not expect you to make it so far, I was not even certain that you would come. Yet somehow you managed to dispatch my best warriors. You should not have come. You could have lived. But you will die today, I believe that you know that now." She looked at me. "You do know that?"
I said nothing, I simply glared at her. There was nothing to say. She had killed all of my sons, taken my family. No simple words would bring them back. None would make her understand or feel remorseful. Such feelings were beyond her. She did not understand the meaning of love, commitment, honor and family. No one could make her understand. The only thing that I valued her with at the moment was the ability to die, for that's what I would force her to do.
My breath came in wheezing, gurgling gasps. I knew that I was leaning slightly to one side and could feel my body trembling. My muscles were crying out in pain, my old bones screaming for rest, and my body sought energy that I did not have. I was weak. I knew that I was weak when I started this vendetta. I am old, small and have not eaten for quite some time. I knew that when I started and yet I ignored it.
She looked at me curiously, scornfully. "Why do you not speak? Are you afraid? You should be." Reaching behind her she withdrew her katana and assessed me coldly. "Perhaps you are in too much pain to speak. Your wounds do look serious. I will put you out of your misery, you are stinking my building." Slowly she walked towards me.
I did not hear her. I had ignored her as I ignored the ragings of my body. I knew that I was paying the price for not taking better care of myself before the eve of this battle, but suddenly I did not care. My eyes were slightly glazed as I watched her slowly approach me. My leg nearly buckled but I managed to stagger back a step, keeping my feet. She was right. I knew that I was going to die this day, but she was sadly mistaken if she thought to simply put me out of my misery. I would not go down that easily. I refused to. I had four reasons for coming here, four beloved reasons. A leader, an inventor, a jokester, and a rebel. Those were my reasons. Blue, purple, orange and red. I had came here to avenge them. My sons. My family. The only ones that I had ever truly come to love. The ones that I had raised from infancy to proud, honorable adults. Four proud, honorable adults who were dishonorably cut down in the prime of their life by a heartless enemy. A heartless enemy who stood before me now, who's biggest mistake was to make a feud with me! I came here with a mission and damned it to hell if I was not going to finish it!
She did not think much of my physical state. I could tell by her posture. I played on that, slumping my shoulders and relaxing my body. Let her underestimate me, it would cost her in the end. I could not stop the trembling. It did not matter. My mission was nearly over with.
She stopped in front of me, raising her katana for a mortal blow, her face expressionless save the slight curling of her lip. Though she could not see it, mine curled up as well. She would pay dearly for underestimating me at this moment. My body continued it's trembling. Not just of pain and weakness, but with pure unadultered rage. She would pay with her life!
The moment her body tensed to start the blow, I surged all of my energy into one of my own. With a roar of sheer pain and rage I swung Leonardo's sword straight into her chest. Due to my much smaller size, it was an upward blow. The blade entered just under the joining of her ribcage and continued upward to her shoulder. She froze for a moment. I wrenched the blade to the side, sluicing her internal organs like soup. She started to come down. I could see in her eyes that she knew she was going to die this day as well, that I would not be the only one. Rage split up her face and she managed to swing her blade as gravity brought her to the ground.
I paid the weapon no attention whatsoever. Yanking out Leonardo's katana I swiped it at her, as she was brought down to my level, aiming at her slender throat. Both of our blades struck each other simotaneously.
The steel of the katana bit into her neck, luckily I had enough strength left in my arms to make it a good strong blow, making the blade travel clean through. The moment it passed through the other side, however, my strenght left me and the katana flew out of my paws. At the same time her blade bit deep into the junction of my neck and shoulder, slicing downward with brutal force. I could feel my tired, brittle old bones crack under the onslaught. The sheer weight and force of it was too much for my tired old body. My legs buckled uselessly and I collapsed to the ground.
I flopped on my back. The headless body of Karai followed me, slumping on my chest. Her head rolled a bit off to the side. The empty eyes stared at me, devoid of life. I closed my own eyes slowly. The weight of her body on my chest wasn't helping my breathing, but I did not have the strength to push the body off. I wheezed in painfully. More blood gurgled into my lungs. It was pointless anyway, I knew that I was going to die. I could feel the blood pumping from my new wound in fresh spurts, soaking my already blood-coated fur. I was going to die.
But that did not matter either. I had achieved my mission. Karai was dead. My sons were avenged. Leonardo. Michelangelo. Donatello. Raphael. They were all avenged.
Suddenly the weight was lifted off my chest. Someone touched my cheeks. Slowly I opened my eyes to see Ms. O'neil's frantic face in my vision. She was saying something with urgency, but I couldn't hear her. It was as though she had lost her voice. She put pressure on the wound on my neck, Mr. Jones doing something to my chest, his face etched with worry. I could not feel a thing that they were doing, nor could I hear anything. It was as though I was separate. I slowly closed my eyes again, my mouth slightly agape.
When I opened them again it was different. I could still see Ms. O'neil and Mr. Jones, but I could also see myself, which was odd to say the least. Both of them were haunched over my still form. Why could I see myself, my own body? It took a moment to realize that they were attempting CPR. It puzzled me. Why would I be seeing this, why could I see myself? It was as though I was standing over them, watching it instead of being a part of it as I should be.
I then realized that all the pain, all the emptiness was gone. It was as though I was uplifted. Something touched my paw and I looked down. What I saw took the very breath from my lungs.
It was Michelangelo. He looked as he did when he were a child, his big eyes looking up at me. With a finger in his mouth he tugged at my paw again. "Daddy? Where'd you go? I missed you."
My eyes widened in immediate shock, my jaw dropped open. I was about to turn to him when I saw two more figures in my vision. It was Donatello and Raphael, the same age as Michelangelo, approaching me with bright faces. "Masta Splinter? You're back! Yay! We were waiting for you! We were good too!" Their faces split into grins as they reached for me with thier small arms.
It was then I could feel another small figure hug the back of my legs. It was Leonardo. His voice was muffled as he spoke into my robes. "We missed you Master Splinter. Really, we did. And they were good, too. I watched them, just like you told me to. I watched over them good. Why'd you go?"
I felt a fierce stab of pain and warmth in my heart at the same time. A painfully large lump formed in my throat, blocking all function. I tried to speak but could not. With a loud, strangled sob I dropped to my knees, and gathered all four of them up with my arms, hugging them to my bosom. Hot tears welled in my eyes and ran unchecked down my cheeks as I wept, hugging my sons so desperately that I knew that I could never, ever let go. Not again. They hugged me back, their little bodies milling in my arms as they did so many times before. I buried my face in the warmth of their little bodies, my eyes swollen with tears. I rubbed my cheeks against their skin, relishing the feeling. Never, ever could I let go. My embrace on them tightened and my weeping deepened. "I love you all, my sons. Never forget that, never. I love you all." My voice sounded rough and croaked, but I did not care. My sons were with me.
"Where did you go?"
"It does not matter, I am back and I swear that I will never leave you again." I managed to get out, my cheeks soaked with tears.
I was joyously unaware of everything but my sons, yet at the same time I had a feeling that this could not be real, yet it was somehow. I looked again at the scene below. Ms. O'neil was sobbing hysterically, pumping frantically at my chest as Mr. Jones administered breaths. I had a feeling that I could go back...I looked at my sons. Four eager faces grinned up at me.
"We saved you a spot, Daddy!" Michelangelo piped up.
"Oh?" I answered curiously. My face was split in half, my smile so wide. I do not think that I have ever donned such a smile in my life. This is a blessed moment.
"In the stars, remember? We saved you one, right next to ours!" Leonardo finished for him, his big eyes looking up at me. "Your Master Yoshi is up there too! We thought that you'd really like it."
A feeling of renewed warmth flooded my body and I knew. Suddenly I just knew. The stars. It had to be the stars. Nodding I smiled at all of them. "Well, you'll just have to show me then, won't you?"
"Really? You'll come with us? Yay!" All four of them milled in my arms once more, nearly knocking me off balance. I didn't care. I could do this forever. This was right. I was with my sons. I was with my family. The ones that I loved, more than life itself.
"Yes, my sons. Let us go home, to the stars."
A/N: Ah, somehow I feel that I messed up that chapter, yet at the same time I'm truly happy about it. How'd you like it? I know that it was longer than my usual, but I suspected that it would be from the beginning. There was simply no descent way to break this up. Let me know what you guys think about my first attempt at both angst and Splinter POV.